Public Relations

In NGOs We Trust

This news release by Edelman PR explains the rationale for trying to encourage business "partnerships" with activist groups: "You've got an environmental disaster on your hands. Have you consulted with Greenpeace in developing your crisis response plan? Co-opting your would-be attackers may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you consider that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are trusted by the public nearly two-to-one to 'do what's right' compared with government bodies, media organizations and corporations."

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Grass Roots Seeded by Drugmaker

"Showing all the signs of a thriving grass-roots movement, a host of new health-care groups are drawing attention to the perils of a contagious, sometimes lethal virus called hepatitis C," writes Robert O'Harrow. "But contrary to appearances, these coalitions are not spontaneous gatherings of concerned citizens. They are instead a key part of a carefully orchestrated marketing campaign funded by Schering-Plough Corp. to sell the primary therapy for hepatitis C, Rebetron, which costs $18,000 a year." Several members of the Hepatitis C Coalition are on the payroll of the Shandwick PR firm.

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Crisis in PR!

"Very marginal" is the way Steve Lett, president of a now-defunct dot-com company, describes the result of his company's initial experience with public relations. PaperStudio.com outsourced its PR functions to a so-called virtual agency that stitches together a flock of PR freelancers. One year and $125,000 later, PaperStudio had gained a paltry 15 clips for its press kit.

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Sex, Lies, and Hillsdale

The president of Hillsdale College, described once by William Buckley, Jr. as "the most prominent conservative college in the country," was ousted from his job following a messy sex-and-suicide scandal. The college responded with what the Weekly Standard calls "clumsy attempts to cover all this up. ... It may have been the most inept attempt at damage control ever produced by an academic institution."

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"The Woods Are Full of Eco-Terrorists"

By his own account, Barry R. Clausen has infiltrated radical environmental groups, staked out logging protests and helped bust a drug ring. He has testified before Congress about a rising tide of eco-terror, has been quoted scores of times in the national and international press and has appeared, he reckons, on 150 talk radio shows. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation and many other law enforcers don't see any sign of the surging eco-terror Mr. Clausen describes. Pressed, he acknowledges that his list of documented terror incidents includes graffiti and pie-throwings.

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Fortress Microsoft

A scathing item by Tony Seideman ravages Microsoft's PR tactics, arguing that "the company's internal story is so far from what others are seeing that it is enraging members of the media who would rather be friendly, straining people's credibility and ultimately harming its own interests." Through its media relations operatives at Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft has tracked its press coverage with "spreadsheet precision and wooed select tech reporters for key media outlets via command audiences with Bill." The result, Seideman says, is a cult-like atmosphere within the company: "There is a poin

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"Astroturf" Lobbyists Overshadow Grass-roots Efforts

Front groups with high-minded names often obscure the financial interests behind them. Examples cited in this story include a "nonprofit" group called the Asia Pacific Exchange Foundation that accepts corporate money to pay for trips to Asia for politicians; a campaign by drug gian Glaxo Wellcome to mobilize asthma patients against rules that would phase out inhalers using ozone-harming propellants; and front groups created by utility companies to campaign on both sides of the electricity deregulation issue.

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PR Newsletter Gathers "Intelligence" on Environmental Reporters

TJFR, a publisher of media insider news for the PR industry, has launched a new publication, the Environmental News Reporter, to provide "in-depth intelligence on the nation's most important environmental news organizations and journalists." TJFR says having this information will help public relations pros "manage potentially negative situations." TJFR's other publications include the Business News Reporter and the Health News Reporter.

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